Is the transcending memory of Malcolm X still relevant today? Throughout history, humans have fought for what they desire and believe in whether it be for territory, wealth, nationalism, religion, or for Civil rights. “Fierce” civil and human rights activist Malcolm Little fought relentlessly for African-Americans and the Nation of Islam (NOI) from 1952-1965 when he was assassinated. Malcolm’s journey began in joining the (NOI) when he replaced his slave name “Little” with “X” as a representation of his lost tribal name. After re-educating himself about the history of his people and the NOI Malcolm became a minister and started the nation’s newspaper, held fierce rallies which rapidly increased the group’s population from 400-4000 in eight years which created a powerful movement in civil rights. The result of Malcolm’s work is still seen as relevant today as Civil rights are still fought upon in the US. However, his memory has considerably changed over time.
During Malcolm’s presents at the NOI, he introduced tens of thousands of African-Americans to the NOI and built an outreach all over America, and encouraged Negroes to stand up for themselves by any means necessary. Malcolm’s charisma and intelligence made a very persuading case and resulted in a lot of criticism from white Americans and even the FBI. During his time in NOI Malcolm numerously stated “We are not a violent nation, but we do believe that if we are being brutalized that we are in our rights to retaliate by any means necessary” and “We don’t believe in turning the other cheek”. After the civil war African-Americans still did not have civil rights, Malcolm brought to light that they did not even have human rights and they were not going to get them unless they “Come together against the common enemy.” Malcolm X was a powerful figure who created unity but wanted so much more. White America did not believe in the integration of negroes, So Malcolm wanted to create independence for negroes to allow them to achieve economic, social, political success. However Malcolms time (NOI) came to an end after discovering his leader Elijah Muhammad was having inappropriate relations with many women, some of which resulted in children. After leaving the NOI Malcolm founded his own incorporation called the Muslim Mosque Inc and went on a pilgrimage to change his name to “el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz”. Malcolm is mostly remembered for his work during his time at the NOI, and his role in the unity of African-Americans whilst fighting for fearlessly retaliating for equality
However, during Malcolm’s life, he also received a lot of criticism, hatred, and discrimination from Americans, authorities, and even negroes. Due to Malcolm’s “By any means necessary” and retaliation to violence with violent leadership attitude, he was seen as a threat by the FBI and white Americans. The FBI had ongoing investigations until he died including there, COINTELPRO (Counterintelligence Program) by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) was set up to diminish, discredit and surveil his political organizations. FBI president J. Edgar Hoover sent blunt orders to “Do something about Malcolm X”. The FBI surveilled Malcolm by tracking his coming and goings, electronic bugging, photographs, and spying on him. The NOI also saw Malcolm X as a threat to their nation after his falling out with their leader Elijah Muhammad. The NOI was afraid of Malcolm and what he knew and could do and after many attempts, finally shot him at the Audubon Ballroom, New York. Although the authorities were not Malcolms only critics. Dr. Martin Luther King, who was also one of the greatest activists of the civil rights movement and had correspondingly the same goals as Malcolm but contrasting plans. Martin saw Malcolm’s plans to be worsening the problem and harmful. Martin once said, “I feel that Malcolm has done himself and our people a great disservice,”. Martin and Malcolm both slowly began to see eye to eye but were assassinated. Throughout history, Malcolm’s memory was considered controversial due to his radicalism in separation, retaliation, and his “Chickens coming home to roost” demising words of John F Kennedy but has gradually changed. However, a lot had changed after Spike Lee’s movie ‘Malcolm X’ (1992) where Malcolm’s entire life journey is portrayed and includes his early life and life-changing transformation after leaving the NOI which many were unfamiliar with. In addition to that many books, documentaries, publications have been produced which have forever changed Malcolm’s memory and eliminating any misconceived information and criticism.
In today’s society, equality is still argued upon and is a transforming universal movement similar to Malcolm. Civil rights have come a tremendous way thanks to the revered and prominent civil rights leader Malcolm X, however, 50 years later the nation is still in disagreement of black solidarity? Shortly before he was assassinated Malcolm said “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” Today people still look back in remembrance of Malcolm’s legacy in the hope one day America can be joined in unity.
As Malcolm’s memory has transcended, people of all races have gained an appreciation for him and have even created a Malcolm X day in which people rejoice in celebration and festivals.